Upgrade or?

I visited a friend, who after countless attempts with CAT5 / 6/7/8 network cables from several companies, the best result he got-

  1. Connection of, network input - CAT8 cable from the main switch to an optical converter
  2. Output to another optical converter, using optical fiber.
  3. Convert back to a network cable and from there to another switch that serves as a splitter
    To nas, and to streamer.
    what do you think? makes sense?
    Or is it an ocd disorder, typical of a common audiophile? :wink:

These optical links have been around for a while, and a number of people have reported positive results, others haven’t.
It’s pretty cheap and easy to try if you don’t mind a bit of extra clutter, and a couple of extra PSUs. As always, keeping an open mind and avoiding expectation bias might be the tricky part.


Mark me down in the ‘Yes’ box.

I have compared consumer switches (TP-Link) with managed switches (Cisco), and experimented with ethernet cables from Maplin (ie cheap), BJC, Catsnake and Audioquest (Cinnamon). In each case the difference in ‘sound’ in any of these comparisons was at best subtle, and in reality so subtle that any perceived difference could quite easily be attributed to expectation bias or just plain audio memory deficiency.

There were certainly no significant differences that made me want to extend my experiments. Very different from analogue interconnect and speaker cable comparisons I have carried out in the fairly recent past, where obvious and very significant differences could be heard.

No doubt others will have different views. Maybe the differences that some people hear are system component dependant.

By the way, my first decent speakers (purchased back in the mid 70s courtesy of a vacation job on an oil rig construction yard) were a pair of Celestion Ditton 66s. My brother still has them to this day. Very fine speakers indeed!


What’s the purpose of the two optical converters in the middle? I don’t see how they add anything to the data signal.

I think that’s the point - they don’t add anything extraneous to the signal :smiley:

no electrical noise, that‘s for sure, but how about jitter?

I think the idea that optical connections provide isolation must be an oversimplification. For starters, the second media converter that converts optical back to electrical obviously has a PSU, and a copper connection to the audio equipment which is still has the potential to pick up noise.

There have been experiments that demonstrate how optical cables can pick up mechanical vibrations which then affect analogue electronics with audible results, so there is potential to solve one problem, only to introduce another.

That isn’t to say that there is no place for optical. Naim put opto-isolators inside their streamers, so they clearly believe there is a place for them.

FWIW I’ve used a couple of different optical setups for my home network for a few years now. I didn’t do it for sound quality reasons, and on occasions when I’ve tried connecting my streamer with a copper cable instead I’ve been hard pushed to detect any difference.


I would rather go for a wireless connection. No cables and no additional power supplies. If it sounds worst than wired, you can always go back and consider the optical option later. Or, even simpler, you get rid of the NAS altogether and store the music data where they are needed: on the streamer. No NAS, no converter, no cables … no troubles!


There are obscure but potentially correct explanations in terms of ground plane noise from the network (I think), the optical devices simply decouple the ethernet link closer to the streamer potentially minimising inherent noise elsewhere on the network.

I tried 3-4 fancy network cables, cheap and expensive without optical decoupling.

There is a definite difference for good or bad between them.

I settled on the budget cable as best ‘bang for buck’ - £500 more definitely added something substantial but at the time did not seem value for money, but in retrospect it may have been equivalent to a Powerline vs Powerline Lite type difference.

Ultimately with many of these seemingly odd tweaks I think they have to truly be night and day to justify high expenditure, so demoing if at all possible beforehand is the way to go.

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